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Latitude: 55.9581 / 55°57'29"N
Longitude: -3.1859 / 3°11'9"W
OS Eastings: 326054
OS Northings: 674537
OS Grid: NT260745
Mapcode National: GBR 8QC.4N
Mapcode Global: WH6SM.1H5R
Entry Name: 15 Union Street Including Railings and Boundary Wall
Listing Date: 16 June 1966
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 396718
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49153
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: City Centre
Traditional County: Midlothian
1806. Probably designed by Hugh Cairncross (see Notes); built by John Aitchison. Classical tenement block; 3-storey attic and basement, 5-bay (3- bay to basement) symmetrical elevation to Union Street. Smooth V-jointed rustication to ground floor, droved ashlar to upper floors (droved ashlar to basement; random rubble with dressed margins to rear). Dividing band between basement and ground floor and ground and 1st floor; mutuled eaves cornice; blocking course. Regular fenestration; segmental-headed windows to basement.
SW (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: to centre bay, platt overarching basement recess leading to timber panelled door with segmental fanlight and doorpiece with narrow margin lights, in round-arched opening. 2 tripartite dormer windows to roof.
NE (REAR) ELEVATION: 3-bay elevation with bowed section to right bay; 3 windows to the lower floors of bow, tripartite windows to the top 2 floors (cast iron balconette to lower of the two). Lower windows to centre bay have been narrowed.
RAILINGS: to edge of basement recess and platt, stone copes (edging basement only) surmounted by spear-head finialled cast iron railings.
BOUNDARY WALL: to rear, random rubble wall with flat stone coping.
GLAZING etc: predominantly 12-pane glazing in timber sash and case windows (4-pane glazing to outer lights of tripartite dormers). Dormers have timber fascia and grey slate haffits and piend roofs. 2 rooflights between dormers. Pitched roof; graded grey slates; stone skews. 1 corniced rendered mutual ridge stack to left; 1 corniced, part droved ashlar, part rendered mutual ridge stack to right; 1 corniced rubble wallhead stack to rear; circular cans to all stacks.
This classically detailed tenement block is a good example of early 19th century high quality tenement design in Edinburgh. It also has streetscape and historical value as an element of the Gayfield estate development. It may also have significance as one of the few extant buildings designed by Cairncross, formerly a pupil or assistant of Robert Adam, for whom he was clerk of works at several prestigious projects, including Culzean Castle and Old College, Edinburgh University. Cairncross is not specifically mentioned in contemporary documents in connection with Union Street. However, there is a very strong similarity of design between the tenements on the north side of Union Street and the tenements on the NE side of Gayfield Square, which were designed for Jollie by Cairncross in 1807.
15 Union Street forms part of the Gayfield Estate, so called because it stands on the former grounds of Gayfield House. These lands were feued by the solicitor James Jollie from 1785. Building began on either side of the drive to the house; the building line on the SW of Gayfield Square follows the line of the drive. These developments began to establish the form of Gayfield Square, which forms the heart of the estate. The gardens at the core of the square were preserved from development as early as the 1790s; Sasines record that '..the area of Gayfield Place [is] to remain an open space for all time coming.' Union Street is on the boundary of these lands, the north side being Gayfield land, and the south side of the street built on land at the edge of the adjoining Picardy estate.
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